Each Saturday or Sunday, I write out our menu for the upcoming week. But before I do that, I have to list all the available food inside the ref and what’s still left in the pantry. Then, I cross it out one by one while I list down the menu for each day. I find that it makes life so much easier. This is actually helpful when you are on a budget and that your next schedule in buying your groceries is still a week away. Having a predetermined meal plan has a number of benefits. I just write it down in a piece of paper and stick it at the door of the refrigerator. This way my daughter can see it and will have an idea what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She can also condition herself to eat what’s in my plan even if she hates eating it.
1. It reminds you to defrost meat ahead of time so that you don’t have to use the microwave. This is healthier and saves on electricity (ok, not every much, but it does!)
2. When you have something planned and/or defrosting in the fridge, you’re less tempted to eat out.
3. You’re not scrambling last minute trying to decide what to cook, madly digging about in the freezer and fridge wondering what you can throw together before the kid(s) and husband start begging for food.
4. No more, “What’s for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” “I don’t know, what do we have?” “Stuff, but I don’t know what to cook.” “Well, what do you want?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” in an endless cycle that lasts so long you end up eating late or, worse, eating out.
5. You know what you’ll be cooking so you’ll know when to start dinner.
6. It gives you an excuse to go through the freezer, fridge and pantry each week so you can use up items about to expire and see what items you’re low on.
7. You’ll be able to plan portions so there are lunch leftovers. When the hubby has a packed lunch for work, there’s no need to spend money eating out. It’s healthier, too.
8. It allows you to go through your recipes, pick something new to try or cycle in something you haven’t made in a while.
9. When produce is on sale, you can build it into your meal plan for the upcoming week. That way, it doesn’t accidentally get forgotten about in the fridge and go bad.
10. You’ll save on trips to the grocery store because you’ll know all the ingredients you’ll need ahead of time and can plan that into your usual shop.
11. You can balance out the whole week’s meals nutritionally.
12. If you are a working mom like me, it helps the baby sitter to decide what to cook for the kids. They can eat even if you will be late coming home from work.
Remember, even with a plan, it doesn’t mean you have to cook what’s on the menu; you can swap days or work in something unexpected. Planning is meant to help, not hinder. There are many times that I’ll decide to make something else with the defrosted meat or find we have so many leftovers we can have those one night instead. With this meal plan, I stick with the food budget that we have every two weeks. We don’t overspend for the food that we don’t consume. Remember that you can save your money for some other purpose like investments.